Please Close The: Dawngate MOBA Cancelled

Denied.

“Oh gosh – Dawngate‘s been cancelled,” I say to the rest of the Dota team I’m playing with. “What’s Dawngate?” was the first response.

Dawngate was/is EA’s foray into MOBA territory. It’s been in open beta for six months and there was a closed beta for a year before that. But according to EA’s Matt Bromberg the game wasn’t making enough progress (whatever that means) and will be closed after 90 days.

“Although the game has grown, we’re not seeing the progress we’d hoped for. This isn’t the outcome we wanted, but beta testing is about learning and improving, and ultimately, about making difficult decisions about how to proceed.”

The developers billed it as a “truly new MOBA” with one of the selling points being that characters were role-agnostic and could be customised to better fit what the player fancied doing in a given match. I remember thinking that was an interesting idea but the bullet point for it on the explanation sheet was “Your character, your way” which had the unfortunate effect of making me think of Burger King’s “Have it your way”. Essentially I’ve been thinking of the characters as bespoke(ish) hamburgers ever since.

I’ve played a teeny tiny amount of Dawngate – maybe a couple of matches – but in that short time it didn’t particularly grab me or stand out as new or interesting. I decided to keep an eye on it and pop back when it had had a few more updates but mostly it made me want to play League of Legends. If any of you guys were playing it regularly I’d be interested to know what it was that kept you coming back.

If you are one of those players who spent real money in Dawngate Bromberg states that you’ll be entitled to a full refund.

He concludes the announcement:

“On behalf of the entire team at Waystone Games and EA, I want once again to thank all our players for being part of this journey. Your straight-up feedback and the friendly reception we received all over the world at events was extremely encouraging and important to us. We appreciate it.”

53 Comments

  1. Horg says:

    EA, late to the party since 2007.

  2. Xocrates says:

    I wonder just how badly the game was doing (or how high EA’s expectations were) for them to pull the plug in beta. While I’ve never played it (mostly because I didn’t felt about learning a to play new MOBA) it’s probably one of the games in the genre I’ve heard the most about.

    Kind of tempted to dip in before they shut it down just to see what it the game is/was like.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      See, I felt the opposite way: I think this has to be one of the worst marketed games of this genre. Outside of the initial flurry of news when it opened up, I have not heard about the game once. If you want to assess a game’s popularity during its beta phase, you better damn make sure people know about the bloody thing.

      • RedViv says:

        Yeah, out of ten people I spoke to about how grand I find the game, I found probably seven or eight completely befuddled Never-Heard-Of-This stares.

      • Xocrates says:

        “Heard the most about” does not actually translate to “Heard a lot”. For the amount of games popping out, the marketing for the things have been remarkably low key. With the exception of LoL and Dota, the only ones I’ve seen pop up every once in a while are Smite and Dawngate. Even Heroes of the Storm is remarkably quiet.

    • Philomelle says:

      The recent lore trailer has only 6,500 hits as of right now, so I suppose the answer is very badly.

      I have no idea why they didn’t think of fixing it by adding a bunch of Dawngate-related incentives with release of other games, such as packing a couple skins with Dragon Age: Inquisition and Sims 4 (the last one could actually work because the actress who voices Sims, also voices a major character in Dawngate). Last I checked, Ser Isaac armor did wonders for Dead Space 2 pre-orders.

      • Hex says:

        Wow I couldn’t even sit through it. What a boring intro video.

        • Philomelle says:

          I’m sorry it didn’t have enough breasts and explosions for you.

  3. padger says:

    Why would anyone bother to try and release another top down lane-pusher? I mean i get the FP remixes and so on, but you are not going to take much of Dota or LoL’s share of the market now.

    • Baines says:

      It was supposed to reinvent/improve the design.

      You know, like half the FPS series that tried and failed to compete with Call of Duty and Battlefield. Or most MMOs, the ones that either go under or restructure themselves to be more like WOW. Or like some of the GTA clones. Or the fighting game boom of the 90s.

  4. Brosepholis says:

    It was actually one of the better dota-likes I’ve played, and a high quality product. The complete lack of loading time sticks in my mind in particular.

    The obvious problem was that they were just 4 years late to the party. You can’t compete against Valve.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    Our servers, our way.

  6. RedViv says:

    Memorial avatar: Activate.

    I really liked this.

  7. shinkshank says:

    I’ve played it for a bit a month or so back, I wasn’t really impressed. In the sea of League clones, you have to do something drastic to stand out from the competition ( Heroes of the Storm, which I haven’t played yet, is a good example of that in my mind ). The UI was almost exactly LoLs, the overall artstyle as well. The gameplay flowed almost the same way, even with the new objectives. I found most of the hero designs to just be uninspired, with the exception of that one guy who’s a walking crypt ( and even that one isn’t exactly original, just well done ).

    It IS a shame to see the project sink after so much work was put into it, but I’d be lying if I said I had high hopes for it at any point, especially with the frankly stupid advertisement pushes. Me and my friends still laugh every time we hear the phrase ” Break the meta “

    • Xocrates says:

      As someone who actually has played Heroes of the Storm, I can maybe agree with the “stand out from the competition”, but I very much suspect it will not present itself as an alternative, at least not without some pretty massive overalls to its current state (possible, since it’s technically alpha, but I suspect it to be unlikely).

      • Moraven says:

        The BlizzCon tournament will be interesting to see how well the game plays at a high level.

        Not sure if I will catch a match while there, but hope I do.

        • Xocrates says:

          That’s kind of the problem though, I suspect that the game may be reasonably enjoyable at high level with premade teams, but I suspect it to be the most frustrating an uneven game in the genre I’ve ever played at low level.

          Which given the lengths the game goes to lower the entry it’s bizarre – and in fact symptomatic of the game’s current state.

      • jrodman says:

        I like the image that the game is wearing overalls. Perhaps it is baling hay as well.

    • montorsi says:

      Frankly it’s a relief they didn’t insist on releasing the game. Taking a honest look at the market and recognizing you can’t compete with the WoW of MOBAs is hard but probably better for everyone concerned.

      • Tauemperor says:

        Yea I get the feeling that if this becomes a norm it is going to be bad practice though.Expecting betas to be the same as end products might be expectedly silly from players but I would never expect that from companies. For everyone here who says that nothing can compete in a world of League and Dota take a look at Smite by Hirez. I went through Smites beta from beginning to end and the highest viewer count it ever got on twitch before release was 500+ at the best of times outside of tournaments. When Smite was released it came out with a huge boost in marketing, advertising, and a large tournament to celebrate and now Smite has 1500 viewers minimum.

        Just like how Guild Wars and Eve survived and even thrived in a world of WoW you just need to set your expectations lower then “all the money”, which sadly EA never will understand.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        It was a good game though. I dislike the premise of cancelling decent games purely because you didn’t get the players instantly. It’s not a habit I want to see companies getting into. It reminds me a lot of the way American TV works currently. Not enough viewers in the first 3 episodes? Cancelled. Wrong viewer demographic? Ad people not happy, cancelled. The network screws up and airs the show on a bad night, well it didn’t do well, might as well cancel it. It’s a profit first, everything else unimportant attitude that I hate and seems to be the sole decision behind Dawngate here.

        This game was still in beta and, as the article stated, nobody had heard of the damn thing. That to me shows a complete failure in the EA marketing department rather than the game itself, it’s like they wanted LoL numbers for a game that was still in beta and wasn’t on either Origin or Steam.

        Lots of multiplayer games persist with a relatively small playerbase that keeps them ticking over. Completely canning and then closing down an unfinished game is to me a terrible precedent to set.
        Tauemperor is absolutely right. It seems like EA realised they weren’t going to swipe away 50% of LoLs playerbase and said “what’s the point” (If they thought that was even a possibility there are some braindead buffoons working in EA’s marketing department). This game had potential for sure and they have just crapped over that because it didn’t become the next big thing. I refuse to believe it was costing them very much money at all in the grand scheme of things considering all the money they make from SPORTS! and one million Sims expansions.

        • jrodman says:

          Well i think it’s the kind of decision that a company like EA can make more readily. They want to focus on megahits and milk them for as much money as possible. If something’s merely a well-made game, they can just toss it as a sunk cost.

          I don’t think that approach will lead to particularly good games, so I’m sort of “glad” that smaller companies won’t be able to approach gamedev that way.

  8. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Because of the stupid overuse of the suffix -gate, i actually didnt know at first wether this was a “scandal” that was happenig, or just something being shelved.

    Whats interesting about this, I find, is that EA expected to make progress on the playerbase in beta. Not open beta as a way to stress test their systems, but open beta as a way to sell a product you dont have to claim is done. Elements in the industry have been moving towards this for a while, but this is a sort of confirmation that its what is now expected.

  9. Arcanon says:

    Aww nooo, it was actually a MOBA I kinda liked, after quitting DOTA and LoL and incidentally masochism.

    The characters were actually interesting too, writers and artists went to greath lenghts to give them an interesting background. They’ve even been releasing a Chronicle Comic weekly, a surprisingly good one!

    And the “choose your role” thinghy was really neat. Not to mention the unique itemization.

    Better than LoL in most ways IMO, big potential in the wrong EAnds…this is familiar :(

  10. Lars-Li says:

    I see myself as a casual dota/moba player even though I’ve played all the ones I can get my hands on. I enjoyed Dawngate a great deal and felt it struck an awesome balance between being simpler and less of a hassle than Dota2 without feeling oversimplified – in terms of my level of involvement with the genre. My favourite aspects was the intuitive way of building items and no activatable items. I didn’t feel like I had to look up build guides before trying new characters and could just wing it and feel like I was in control of what I was building.

    It definitely had issues though and unfortunately they were supposed to be the flagship features that would set the game apart from other mobas. The role system was supposed to let any character fill any role (last hitter, support, jungler, assassin), but what it immediately boiled down to was that you had one or two “best” roles for each character, and a very rigid meta of teams consisting of two lasthitters, two supports, and one jungler. Combine these two issues and you end up with something that goes directly against the idea of “breaking the meta” as they called it. People would immediately leave or rage if anyone deviated from that certain composition.

  11. Dread says:

    I liked Dawngate quite a bit, no loading times, no active items (which I often forget to use in LoL or Dota), the boss-style fight against the base.

    But the gameplay itself is very similar to LoL and in the dozen or so games I played I never felt like I understood why a certain item is good for me, how my item choices affect my damage, why certain abilities do a certain thing. For example, in all of my games there was this lady, who throws with coins in the game. She almost always completely destroyed everybody else and I never understood why.

    But overall, Dawngates biggest problem is that the market for this type of game is closed; you etiher play Dota or LoL. It has good ideas and good features, but who would leave their account in either game behind to switch to a game, where they have to learn the intricacies of the system again and their available character roster shrinks from 120+ to 20?

    It’s a situation very similar to MMORPGs; many tried to recreate the success of WoW, but barely anybody was willing to switch from WoW to one of the new games, no matter how competently made they were.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I find “You either play Dota or you play LoL” to be true, but so, so frustrating. I do not like Dota at all. There’s too much going on and I don’t have time for that, and I don’t want to make time for that because in general I dislike its “feel” I guess it’s too slow or something. League feels too strict in its meta (I’ll come back to that, however) and its characters often lack individuality.

      They both suffer from awful playerbases, and involve painful, often hopeless snowballing, which I really dislike. Plus they’re a bit slow. I’ve been playing Strife quite a bit because in theory it should avoid the issue while keeping the game’s essence, but for an odd reason it’s missing something, so I kept going back to LoL because it feels more fulfilling. I think it’s missing modality, every game feels too similar: Because every character can carry, top and mid lanes are basically the same while bottom is boring, there just isn’t enough variety, and farming just doesn’t feel that good. League’s 5-role meta is bothersome because it’s strict, but it gives you five totally different ways to play the game, and I love that.

      However, Dawngate managed to take the idea of different roles with different methods of farming and very different playstyles, but put it into a game with friendlier players, less painful snowballing, a faster pace, and a somewhat less strict meta, which promised to get even more varied in the never-going-to-happen-now future. Now that it’s gone, there’s a hole with nothing to fill it.

      Oh, and the chronicles were awesome. Playing a character you actually have an attachment to as a character? Totally undervalued, seriously.

      • jrodman says:

        I will say that DOTA has toned down the snowballing a bit in 6.82. So there’s a bit of hope about that.

  12. Tauemperor says:

    I played a lot of dawngate starting after the totalbiscuit video and I loved every minute of it. The game was far more fast paced then league but easier to get into then dota, had some of the most interesting character designs you will ever see in any game, and far more emphasis on story, character interaction, and environment than any other moba we will most likely ever see. To those who say it was the same as league I expect they played 10 games at max and got bored and I don’t blame them I did the same thing when the closed beta started, but after coming back and actually giving it a chance to show its stuff I, like many other DG players, cannot go back to the far slower pace of games like league. One of the things that most surprises me about when you play DG a while is how dead quiet other mobas are by comparison as there is none of the dialogue or interactions with what is going on in the world around the characters, whereas in DG almost every event that occurs has some sort of reaction from the shapers.

    To be fair it also had big problems, most of all being that it struggled to grab a solid player base. The largest increase in players would be when events such as gamescon would occur but sadly a week after most people would dismiss it as a league clone and leave the game. The game never got the proper advertising which was a huge disappointment to me as it was a game backed by EA; say what you will about EA but they do marketing well. The most advertising I ever saw was web border ads and a small youtube video made by the developers. The booths at events and shows were tiny, often hidden in the back, and honestly the most advertising DG ever got was the same Totalbiscuit videos that brought me to return and give it a second chance. I also felt that the developers should have put more emphasis into esports and tournaments faster as they never seemed in a rush to do that until recently and the moba Smite shows that even in a world of league and dota2 that tournaments can grab the numbers and the player base needed. Before Smites official release tournament they were lucky to get over 500 viewers on twitch at a time now they get 1500 minimum on average.

    Overall the things that made DG stand out were mostly under the hood and not the kinds of things that grab players instantly. Maybe the biggest issue was that what made DG stand out were the little things that not every player is looking for or has an interest in which creates a smaller niche audience. Whatever the case I think the biggest disappointment is that EA did not give this game a chance to take off the ground, judging it a success or failure only 6 months into open beta, and we will likely never see another moba like it again.

    RIP Dibs

    • Horg says:

      ”EA did not give this game a chance to take off the ground, judging it a success or failure only 6 months into open beta”

      It really doesn’t make any sense. The game looks almost release worthy, so they have already invested the majority of the development budget. The decision to cancel now and make no attempt to recoup any investment from an almost feature complete product is almost insane. They might as well replace whoever made this decision with two minimum wage dudes, one to pile up wads of cash, and the other to set them on fire.

      • Philomelle says:

        It’s even more awkward because the tournament to celebrate the first open beta phase ended merely a week ago, there was just a Halloween sale with a unique skin and a bunch of decent deals, and a lot of physical rewards were promised in return for donations to Extra Life. So now they’ll have to deal with the extra financial work of refunding the purchases made during Halloween while also being obligated to deliver the physical rewards from a charity campaign.

        Add the sheer amount of effort placed into the game’s world-building (Dawngate is exceptionally well-written and could be easily built up into a multimedia franchise) that will go to waste now that the development canned, and you get a situation that is beyond wasteful. It would legitimately cost them less to leave the game running and cut down on active development than do what they did.

      • Tauemperor says:

        Eh looks release worthy because it has an amazing development team behind it but that doesn’t mean its good to go. Dota2 spent a long time looking release ready yet staying in beta, Smite did the same as it dragged its feet on an official release date. Just because a game looks like its ready to go doesn’t mean the mechanisms behind it are or that it has reached a level of quality the developers deem appropriate. The game went through a huge overhaul of all the graphics, mechanics, and a redesign of the map when it went into open beta and the developers were saying 4-5 months ago they were preparing for another huge revamp of everything which says to me that they felt they were not yet ready for release.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Yeah for sure it needed a ranking system in place, proper drafting and definitely more shapers because a lot of games would have 2 teams of near-identical setup. Playing Fenmore vs Fenmore in a lane for the 4th time in a row gets boring. However they were working towards it, ranking was promised in a future patch and the day the closure was announced a big patch landed. The timing makes very little sense but I don’t think the game was good for release either.

  13. mickygor says:

    I’m absolutely gutted. Once the servers shut down I think I’m just gonna bow out of the MOBA genre because I don’t think I could stomach going back to League, and I dropped out of Dota2 after 9 minutes because it made not one single improvement upon the “features”/engine limitations of DotA. But tbh all the features are insignificant (though my tastes in playable characters are apparently really different from most, no other MOBA catered to them since Riot murdered Karma), I’m gonna miss the community. No matter how large or small it got, all the regular players knew each other via the streams. Last night there was quite an emotional sendoff started on Twitch which looks like it’s gonna continue for the next 3 months. I’m gonna miss those guys.

  14. mattevansc3 says:

    What I don’t get, bearing in mind that this was made by a Bioware team within EA, that EA decides it wise to go into the MOBA market with a new IP set in generic fantasy and to top it off give it a name so generic the average person would struggle to tell it apart from the hoard of Asian web based MMO games advertised on Facebook and torrent sites.

    If they were going down the fantasy you’re why not tie it into DragonAge? They’d have brand recognition and would at least get those who’ve never played a MOBA a go purely because they liked the RPGs (worked for that collectible 5vs5 g game on iOS).

    Better yet why not make it a Mass Effect tire in? Not only do you get the brand recognition but the Sci-Fi setting alone would help you stand out from the crowd.

    • Philomelle says:

      Have you actually touched Dawngate? It has more in common with Legend of Korra and Nausicaa in the Valley of Winds than western fantasy. In fact, most people I know who did follow it, followed it because the lore was nothing like anything on the market right now.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        But how quickly might this become obvious to people who hadn’t heard about the game before and came checking it out?

        You may be right, of course, but it seemed to lack an immediately distinguishable look and feel. A hook, as it were, to lure new players in.

        Of course, with the lack of pr, it’s hard to tell whether that was really the case.

        • Philomelle says:

          It has a masterfully written webcomic linked at the very top of its website, a lore panel filled with short stories on top of the client’s main interface, plus every Shaper had a blurb and a fully voiced lore entry in the game’s store. About the only way they could deliver lore more obviously is if they broadcasted it in the launcher.

          It also had plentiful gameplay hooks in form of very freeform character building and roles. Stats were designed so every single item was beneficial to the characters in one way or another, while roles such as Tactician and Hunter allowed one to avoid pigeonholing characters into super-specific roles (ranged carries can jungle and supports can reasonably benefit from damage items). It was a whole lot of under-the-hood changes that made the game much less restricting than its more famous cousins. All of them still required tuning, but keep in mind that the game was only halfway into its open beta phase.

          A much bigger problem, much like everyone else pointed out, is that the game’s marketing consisted of two trailers launched over six months ago. It’s like they actually tried to not market it.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            Which all counts for nothing when the banner adverts are so generic I can’t tell them apart from the multitude of browser games out there and I have no interest in playing the game.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yeah the thing is Phil. Nobody knew about any of this until they tried the game, and the marketing EA put into the game was so unbelievably piss-poor that a LOT of gamers reaction to a mention of Dawngate was “What? Never heard of it”. All of the lore, character designs and gameplay elements are lost if people don’t know your game exists, this is the big failing of Dawngate.

            OP is right, it came across as some crappy browser game when all you saw was the banner ads. You’d never guess it was actually a very good entry into the MOBA genre with a lot of individuality to it, the marketing just did nothing to let people know that, if they even knew it existed at all.

          • Philomelle says:

            A much bigger problem, much like everyone else pointed out, is that the game’s marketing consisted of two trailers launched over six months ago. It’s like they actually tried to not market it.

            Jesus, guys, at least read the post you’re responding to to its conclusion.

          • Tauemperor says:

            I cannot agree with you more that the games advertising was horrible but I also think that what mattevansc3 and Hmm-Hmm said points out the number one flaw in how DG sold itself, all the stand out parts of the game were either in the background, required navigating the website to find, or required time investment to realize. What made DG stand out was how they managed little things, advanced mechanics, and non gameplay elements rather than core gameplay and this makes it hard for players who just want to jump into a few games to make a judgement based on what DG stood for, turning it in many peoples minds into “just another moba clone”.

            If you want to sell the chronicles you need to not just have a link on the front page but the most recent chapter displayed on the very first webpage for everyone to see. If you want players to appreciate how user/developer interaction effects the game you need to post a link of it on the front page attached to an article header to grab attention. DG had a terrible website that needed to be updated with all the stand out elements on the front page gong LOOK AT ME!!!!!; I always worried about the fact that DG developers seemed more interested in telling their story before putting in work to sell the product and it seems like it came back to bite them hard.

  15. Zankman says:

    TL;DR: Waystone made a fantastic game (easily LoL 2.0), EA decided not to market it AT ALL, EA’s bad reputation drove the few remaining would-be players away (“EA MOBA? No way. It’s on Origin, right?”), EA cancels the game because of a lack of success… AKA Bullshit.

    Fuck you EA. Thank you Waystone for your fantastic and excellent game, you really took what made LoL good and made it better, all the while pouring your heart and soul into the game – mostly seen in the small things and primarily in the wonderful Lore (Community Interactive, I might add).

    It could have been a hit and the next big thing, even with the challenges of finding a place in a crowded genre and overcoming the bias against EA published games.

    Fuck you EA.

    Maybe some publisher can now swoop in and buy it off from EA, publishing the game themselves? Would be great publicity. I hope so.

    Also: Fuck you, EA.

  16. Spider Jerusalem says:

    This really sucks. Dawngate was a pretty enjoyable game with outstanding lore (the webcomic is well worth a read). I thought it was in a similar place that Smite was months in to its long beta: smaller population, working some kinks out, but that with a full release and some hype (as Hi-Rez did with Smite) that it would carve out a workable niche.

    For shame, EA.

    • Stimpack says:

      “outstanding lore” is literally the last thing I ever expected to hear from anyone in regards to this game, and MOBAs in general.

      • Tauemperor says:

        That dedication to lore was what set it apart from other mobas for a lot of us though. For a lot of people like myself who love lore and story that is why we came back again and again to DG and why playing any other moba hurts.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    Eh, MOBA, schmoba.

  18. lumenadducere says:

    This is a shame. I really liked this one after getting fed up with League over its craptastic community. Players were really nice and welcoming, the gameplay was fun, the item builds were better and didn’t rely on activating items, and the lore was fantastic with some great artwork.

    My best wishes to the devs, I hope that EA recognizes their solid work and puts them to use on something else instead of firing them. It’s a shame this one didn’t get much marketing at all after their initial YouTube push.

  19. Emeraude says:

    I know it’s not exactly the same situation and all, but seeing this post so close to the EFF one makes me smirk in a mean ironic way.